Three major rule changes will come into play this year, as a pitch timer, shift restrictions and bigger bases will be introduced. These changes can and most likely will have major on-field impacts, which makes predicting outcomes even more difficult in 2023.
Last week I looked at three American League teams. This week, let’s take a look at the Mets, Rockies, and Reds.
Mets Break Bank for World Series Quest
The Mets have made it known to the baseball world that they are going to open the checkbook and that’s what they’ve committed to over the past few years. This year was no different, as the team added Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, David Robertson, and Tommy Pham to their roster.
That is as impressive an offseason as it might get, but even with all the money they’ve spent recently, they still haven’t even made the World Series within recent memory. Can they finally turn that around in 2023? I have my doubts, and I think it’s possible that they even take a step back.
The pitching rotation will still be one of the best in the league, despite the loss of superstar Jacob deGrom to the Texas Rangers. Verlander is his replacement, and the veteran is still dealing as an ace at 40 years old. Joining him is his former teammate from the Detroit Tigers, Max Scherzer. Rookie and former Japanese pitching superstar Kodai Senga will likely be third in the rotation. Jose Quintana has always been very underrated as a pitcher. Last season, he went 6-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 32 starts. Carlos Carrasco will probably round out the starting five, and he’s pretty good for a fifth starter.
Still, I like Under 94.5 regular season wins (-110 at Caesars) as my best bet for the Mets. I think they’ll take a bit of a step back this year from their 101-61 season last year, as the weight of expectations might crush this team. We all saw what happened in 2022, but perhaps not doing overly great in the regular season might actually help this team. I feel as though the Mets are a team that needs to be an underdog in order to really succeed. Even with all the money spent, they still lost a few key pieces and they also play in an extremely competitive division.
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Rocky Season Awaits Colorado
I’m not sure that there’s any front office in baseball that is as clueless as the Rockies. I simply don’t understand what their plan is for the future. After the Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon years where the team looked like they were a contender, they decided to sell off most of their assets in order to rebuild, or so we thought.
Instead of tearing it down to the studs, they decided to sign Kris Bryant and keep an aging Blackmon, despite the rest of the roster being in shambles. That led them to a pathetic 68-94 record last season, last in the NL West. This is a team that’s in one of the toughest divisions in baseball and they are going nowhere fast. Terrible contracts, a lack of young talent, and an offseason that featured almost no hope for fans is all too familiar for one of the most embarrassing franchises in sports.
The pitching rotation will feature the same group from last season that got shelled. The lineup, as I have mentioned previously, is a mess of random players. Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers are solid young players. Bryant has obvious talent and can be a real difference-maker if he can actually stay on the field. Other than those guys, it’s hard to say anyone is really a strength of this roster. Everything is just a mess, and this is going to be one of the worst teams in the league.
The Under 67.5 regular season wins (-110, BetMGM) seems like a no-brainer here to me. They’re telling you by doing absolutely nothing in the offseason that they’re trying to lose because they have to know what a disaster this team is. Last season, here are just a few of their ranks in key stats: pitching staff allowed 1,516 hits (worst in MLB), .272 average allowed (worst in MLB), 5.39 runs allowed per game (worst in MLB), 59.6% first pitch strike rate (2nd worst MLB).
All of this adds up to a team that is going to be quite terrible. They’ve done nothing to improve it. Coors Field will be another factor here, as they need to launch the ball up in the air on offense and limit fly balls on the mound, two things that they’ve been unable to do.
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Reds Rebuild Continues
It’s been a tough couple of seasons for Reds fans. The team has traded away most of its stars and committed to a full-on rebuild. That’s going to make it difficult to get excited about the team. There are plenty of new faces, and plenty of old ones fans probably don’t want to see anymore.
However, there is always a reason to be excited during a rebuild in the anticipation of what’s to come. Fans will get to see the future of the team on display in one area or another. They might discover the players of the next contending Reds team ways down the line. Sure, it’s going to be tough to endure all of the losses over the season. Ultimately, it’s what the team had to do after they were going nowhere fast with the previous roster. It was time to inject young talent.
The Under 65.5 regular season wins (-106 at Unibet) has to be the bet here. This roster is pretty devoid of talent outside of a few prospects, and that leads to a very poor season. Aging veterans are not the way to win in MLB, and the Reds are full of them. They were 62-100 last season, and they really haven’t done anything to improve the roster to make that record better. If anything, they actually have an incentive to do as bad as possible to get higher draft picks. The pitching staff should struggle again at home, as the Great American Ball Park is basically Coors Jr. for lefties.
I just don’t see this being a good season in Cincinnati. I think most fans understand what this team is right now. Another long year is on the horizon.
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